I've just returned home from an evening alone at the neighborhood coffee shop where I drank the most divine mocha ever made on earth from a glass mug reminiscent of a fish bowl.
I went there with the sole purpose of beginning eat, pray, love and am caught somewhere between feeling completely jealous and totally inspired. Mind you, I'm only on page 22 but, already, I can tell it's going to be a good book. Maybe my judgment is overly hasty; I decided this from the introduction alone. I was thinking about my thesis as I read how she formatted the book, in that it imitates a japa mala, a string of prayer beads (much like a rosary) used by the Hindus and Buddhists.
And if you don't mind, I'm just going to quote the author, Elizabeth Gilbert:
"The traditional japa mala is strung with 108 beads. Amid the more esoteric circles of Eastern philosophers, the number 108 is held to be most auspicious, a perfect three-digit multiple of three, its components adding up to nine, which is three threes. And three, of course, is the number representing supreme balance, as anyone who has ever studied either the Holy Trinity or a simple barstool can plainly see. Being as this whole book is about my efforts to find balance, I have decided to structure it like a japa mala, dividing my story into 108 tales, or beads. This string of 108 tales is further divided into three sections about Italy, India and Indonesia--the three countries I visited during this year of self-inquiry. This division means that there are 36 tales in each section, which appeals to me on a personal level because I am writing all of this during my thirty-sixth year" (1-2).
For this reason (based on her method of story structure), both jealousy and inspiration have reared their interesting little heads and captured my full attention. There is a part of me that is lit up by an extraordinary feeling of "ah-haa!--that's what I need! Structure!" And then there's another part of me that feels sunk by the notion that Gilbert used up the very last good idea, ever.
I am covetous of the thought of having something as real as prayer beads to hold on to while trying to write the most important story of my life. I mean, really, can you imagine sitting at your computer, completely lost...but never really lost because all the while your thumb is pushing those knobby, dimpled little beads over your index finger in continuous motion, reminding you to "keep going, keep going, keep going..."? Yes, it's true, I'm green-eyed with envy over the idea of having such an incredibly tangible, yet simple, instrument of focus and organization. I mean, focus? Structure? What's that? I don't know, but I need it. I feel desperate for it. 108 short, shorts. And maybe a 109th emergency spare. I could do that. But I can't because the idea has already been taken. Not that I would have ever thought of it on my own, but...(hence my jealousy).
Anyway, the still-tentative working title of my thesis is: Glass Bangles: [and then something more goes here].* That's it. Then I have a couple pages worth of a proposal and a few weak stories that could easily fizzle into nothing, but... it's the underlying theme I'm still grappling with and searching for. I suppose I could begin with just sitting down to WRITE, but who am I kidding? It's much more overwhelming than that. If I could capture the whole sky I would. The problem is that I try to capture it in one fell swoop, in a giant gulp, in a single sentence. The camera lens is never wide enough, or the canvas, or the paper, or even this computer screen. And don't pretend like it's easier than I make it sound, because if you've ever struggled with something that meant a lot to you, then...well...you know what I mean.
So I picked up Gilbert's book and am blissfully stunned (or caffeinated) into thoughts of possibility. But still stuck. damn. This ever-lasting stuckness is hard to cut myself loose of. Yet, as I drove home, a street light shone through the car window, the shadow of street signs in the grass looked like a running rabbit, and I felt my brain lift, moonlight (or street light) illuminated the fogginess of my mind and I thought: "I've gotta get started--it's the only way!" Because, in the meantime, a second job threatens my writing time. And I've already wasted so many days and months (and years?)...
now if only I could only maintain the internal atmosphere that took hold over me a block and a half away from home. If only...
*for those of you new to me or my blog, my thesis is to be a compilation of creative nonfiction essays based on my travels in India (including a seperate, more critical, defense for travel writing.) i traveled there 9 years ago and have been trying to write about it ever since.